According to scientists, a giant plume of 4,000 kilometers of magma pierces through the Red Planet's mantle and causes seismic activity in one particular area of the surface. Not surprisingly, NASA's InSight landing module alone recorded as many as 1,300 "Mars shakes" over four years of research.
Crustal shaking is usually initiated by plate tectonics or mantle plumes. Scientists at the University of Arizona have logically concluded that the second occurs on Mars. The team examined the area around the Cerberus Fossae cracks -- a large plain called Elysium Planitia -- for features that, on Earth, indicate the presence of mantle plumes. As magma rises, the crust rises and stretches, eventually erupting to form large flat volcanic plains.
The team found that the surface of the Elysium Planitia plain has already risen more than a kilometer and a half, and measurements of the gravitational field in the area show that it is caused by something deep inside the planet. The bottoms of the impact craters in this area are also tilted in the same direction, suggesting uplift since the craters were formed.
Applying the tectonic model to the region, the researchers found that they could not explain the observed features. The only possible explanation remained a giant mantle plume about 4,000 kilometers wide. The discovery not only reignites the debate about the formation and evolution of the Red Planet, but also makes us think about a new danger for future colonists - because the heat of magma can cause chemical reactions that awaken dormant microbes.